The demonstration is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and was inspired by similar events following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25 at the hands of a police officer.
The Newton rally organizers called for the demonstration to remain civil in respect to town officials who have granted their right to hold the event after other protests turned violent and destructive.
“I really can’t stress enough that I don’t want anything outside of the message to occur,” said Deon Williams, a Newton resident and organizer. “We have the trust (from the town) that this will remain peaceful, and I want to follow up on that trust and keep it that way.”
Participants are asked to wear face masks and maintain social distancing as much as possible in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to Williams — who said fellow Newton High School graduates Josh Bastin, Evan Chrustic and Marina Regolizio “played a vital role” in helping organize the rally — one of the main reasons for hosting Saturday’s demonstration is to bring awareness of the plight of minorities to a predominantly white area like Sussex County. Cities such as Newark and Los Angeles where protests have already taken place have a much more diverse population, he said, so the message is generally being broadcast to groups with similar backgrounds and experiences.
Williams said some people will refuse to listen to the concerns of anyone who does not look like them, which is why the support of residents from all backgrounds is crucial. He compared the situation to a classroom where a teacher’s students consistently fail the class year after year.
“If you have hundreds of students saying the same thing and yet the teacher continues to teach, your voice isn’t being heard,” Williams said.
Because the rally was organized relatively quickly within the past two days, Williams is unsure of what to expect in terms of the turnout. A Facebook page dedicated to the event listed 33 attending and more than 40 others interested as of Tuesday afternoon.
Williams said he’d like to see a sizable crowd show up to the Green Saturday, but added he won’t be surprised if the turnout is little more than the group of organizers. He said the main objective is for participants to spread their message and do so in a nonviolent manner.
“I’m really just looking for a peaceful protest that accomplishes a goal,” Williams said.